Union Agriculture Minister and Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar on Sunday distanced himself from a statement made in the party’s mouthpiece Rashtravadi, which said: One will not die if one does not consume (costly) sugar.
The statement appeared in the editorial of this month’s issue, following which the NCP came under heavy attack even as Pawar is being blamed for the food price hike.
Addressing NCP’s state convention at Aurangabad in central Maharashtra on Sunday, Pawar said, “Making such a statement is not right. But every editor has a right to express his opinion though it may not necessarily be our party’s policy.”
Rashtravadi editor Sudheer Bhongale commented that people could survive without eating sugar because “anyways several people died of diabetes across the country.”
Bhongale also said there was no need to include sugar in the list of essential commodities.
Bhongale’s remarks created a controversy and evoked strong reactions from some senior NCP leaders. Dismissing the controversy, Pawar said: “Some people create such controversies for gaining more TRPs.”
Defending his alleged role in price hike, Pawar said that several factors such as states’ marketing policies, climate changes and global economy were equally responsible for the price hike.
Pawar came down heavily on politicians who had pointed fingers at him for failing to keep the prices in check.
“We don’t need to worry about these leaders, especially those placed in heavy places,” he said without naming his old rival and union heavy industries minister, Deshmukh, who was most critical of Pawar at the Congress conclave last week.
Pawar said that the states also needed to pitch in to regulate prices at local levels. “Onions that are sold at Rs 11 per kg at Lasalgaon market (in Maharashtra) are up for sale at Rs 23 per kg in New Delhi. This difference is huge… it’s like looting common consumers. I think states can control such practices because they control retail and marketing policies,” he said.
According to Pawar, increased purchasing power has also played a role in inflating prices. “You know very well that salaries have increased after the sixth pay commission.”